Viswanathan Anand was his usual unassuming self, discussing his plans for the World chess championship title defence against Magnus Carlsen likely to be held in November this year.

Speaking to the media at the sidelines of a felicitation function on Tuesday, the five-time world champion reserved liberal acclamation for his Norwegian opponent.

Excerpts

Carlsen, a unique challenge

He’s one of the greatest talents I have come across. You have different strategies for different opponents as each of them has a unique quirk. It would be a nice challenge to play against him.

Rest period

It’s been about nine months since I won [the world title]. Ideally I would have wanted more time to myself but that’s the way things are (smiles).

Satisfied with current form

I have done fairly well recently (In February, Anand won the Grenke Chess Classic trophy at Baden Baden, Germany). Without getting too celebratory, I can say that it’s been a good start to the season.

Preparation for the World championship

I will be playing other tournaments till June. As far as preparation goes, I will take it from there. I don’t want to go public about my team right now.

Pressure of being Indian chess’ poster boy

It’s fine. It’s not a problem but I need to keep working on my game. There are a lot of younger, talented players coming in and the competition is getting tougher. I will have to make sure I maintain my focus.

The chess scene in India

I would say things have improved immeasurably. A lot of organisations are coming forward with sponsorships these days and there’s plenty of young talent that’s coming through.

Quality time with family

I have done okay on that front (smiles). Since most of the matches are in the evening, I get to spend a lot of time with Akhil (his son).

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